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Mens Health

What You Need to Stay Healthy This Winter

Even if you're a 21st-century Scrooge, we predict you'll be doing a lot of giving and receiving this holiday season. Maybe a guy at your job will hand you the rhinovirus (he shouldn't have!), after which you'll go home and promptly regift it to your family. Or perhaps a stranger will sneeze, donating some mucus-wrapped influenza to you and everyone else in the checkout line. It's enough to make a man feel all warm and fuzzy inside, though that's probably just your low-grade fever.

Coughing and congestion aside, the real problem is that these gifts truly keep on giving. "Your immune system launches an inflammatory storm to fight off the invaders," says David Agus, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California and the author of The End of Illness. "Just 2 weeks of this total-body inflammation--which is the time it takes to recover from a bad cold or the flu--can increase your long-term risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes."

Maybe you didn't expect a present, but we have something for you anyway: a custom plan for staying well and, if you do fall ill, for bouncing back fast.

The Easiest, Cheapest Way to Stay Healthy


Antivirals

A bottle of prescription pills. Photo: ThinkStock.
For: Flu survival
When: As soon as the symptoms strike

The flu can hit with the speed and fury of a UFC fighter. So if you wake up feeling like you've been pummeled by Georges St-Pierre, ask your doctor ASAP about a prescription antiviral med, such as Tamiflu or Relenza. "They work best within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms," says Dr. Agus. These drugs won't eliminate all symptoms, but they lessen their severity and reduce recovery time by 1 to 2 days. Note: Your doctor may advise sticking to OTC options, since overprescribing of antivirals could cause drug resistance.

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